Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne, joined his first NATO Defence Ministers meeting on October 21st and 22nd 2021. Speaking at the start of the two-day meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Ministers will adopt a new set of capability targets for all Allies, “They will also agree an overarching plan for the defence of the Euro-Atlantic area, ensuring we have the right forces in the right place at the right time.” NATO will also adopt its first strategy on artificial intelligence and Allies will sign up to an innovation fund with the aim of investing one billion EUR.
On Thursday, NATO Defence Ministers discussed how to further strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence, continuing NATO’s adaption to a more complex and competitive world. Ministers endorsed a new overarching plan to defend the Alliance in crisis and conflict. This will make sure NATO continues to have the right forces and capabilities, at the right place and at the right time, to protect our one billion people from any threat.
Ministers also agreed to the NATO capability targets which help to ensure the Alliance maintains credible deterrence and defence. Allies also reviewed progress in NATO’s response to the growing threat from Russia’s missile systems. Ministers also exchanged views on the lessons to be learned from NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan and how to preserve the gains made in the fight against terrorism.
At the end of the first day of meetings, NATO Secretary General said: "It is important that our Alliance, and the international community reflects on all our efforts in Afghanistan over the years. We discussed NATO’s lessons learned process. The crisis in Afghanistan does not change the need for Europe and North America to stand together in NATO in the face of growing global challenges. Our unity and our strength is what keeps us secure; it is vital that we continue to coordinate and stand together in the fight against international terrorism."
The NATO Defence Ministers meeting continued on Friday, October 22nd, with a meeting of the Defence Ministers from framework nations of the Global Coalition against ISIS, chaired by the United States, in Brussels. The Secretary General stressed that Allies are strongly committed in the fight against terrorism. He emphasized the need to preserve our collective counter terrorism gains in Afghanistan over the past twenty years. He also highlighted NATO’s continued strong engagement in the Global Coalition, including through NATO Mission Iraq, and the Alliance’s capacity-building efforts in support to Jordan and Tunisia. Furthermore, he underscored that the Alliance is looking into possibilities to expand its partnerships towards countries in the Sahel region and is exploring opportunities for further cooperation with African countries in countering terrorism.
Allies also launched the NATO Innovation Fund to invest in cutting-edge technologies. This multinational Fund will help NATO retain its technological edge by enabling investment – worth 1 billion euros - in dual-use technologies of potential application to defence and security. It will also facilitate closer and trusted cooperation with deep-tech innovators, which may otherwise be unable to develop successfully the innovative solutions most needed to the protection of the Alliance. Together with NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic – or DIANA - the Innovation Fund will support the development of a protected transatlantic innovation community.
The Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic, DIANA, will provide a network of technology test centres and accelerator sites to better harness civilian innovation for NATO’s security. DIANA will develop strong, mutually-beneficial interlinkages with all relevant entities of the NATO Enterprise, particularly the NATO Command Structure, the Science & Technology Organization; as well as the NATO Communications and Information Agency and the NATO Procurement and Support Agency.
As the Warfighting Development Command for NATO, Allied Command Transformation welcomes DIANA. Allied Command Transformation has developed a strong innovation ecosystem that encompasses innovation networks throughout the Alliance, a well-established Innovation Hub and Innovation Challenges held twice a year, Allied Command Transformation facilitates technological cooperation and exchanges between Allies by connecting with Allied innovation entities and extending the application of this work across the Alliance.
NATO Defence Ministers also agreed the Alliance’s first Artificial Intelligence strategy, which includes standards of responsible use of Al, in accordance with international law. Ministers also met with NATO’s close partners Finland, Sweden and the European Union to discuss global challenges and how to further strengthen our cooperation. “At the Brussels Summit, NATO leaders committed to strengthening our Alliance, including by promoting and protecting transatlantic innovation”, the Secretary General said. “Today we are delivering on that commitment. And together we will keep our people safe in a rapidly changing world”, he added.
Since its launch at NATO’s Brussels Summit, a number of Allies have made offers to host the headquarters, test centres and accelerator sites that will make the DIANA network in both Europe and North America.
Both initiatives are expected to be fully in effect by NATO’s Madrid Summit in 2022.